Category Archives: Plot

Vegetable race against time

Allotment Plot 326 – 28th August 2012: a dry day that contained some sunshine. Dark matter was hidden in the infinite Universe, invisible to the naked human eye. The dark matter had its own secrets, which might be revealed to humans later if investigations are continued. Infinity stretched far beyond the reach of human satellites and telescopes that focused on dying stars exploding across many galaxies. Was time slowing down or gaining momentum? The Allotment Plot had not received the torrential rain that had drenched other areas within land proximity. The Ice was still melting. Some humans waited with eager anticipation for the moment when drilling for oil could commence, other humans strived to erect a force field to make this action never happen. Profit was on the oil drillers minds rather than destruction of any environment. The Ice environment is the habitat of millions of life forms. A new environment can be created, an adaption of the habitat. Life forms are adaptable as long as they remain life forms and do not cease to exist. Perhaps when life forms perish their existence reappears in other positions in the universe and becomes not just a forgotten energy residue? Like an exploding star, but seemingly without the velocity physical matter can rearrange its self and any consciousness will float through the universe until it manifests in another form that could be the wind or the rain or a bee. The Red Planet sent back its own images via the Curiosity Rover. The curiosity continued, Ella Montt wanted to see the green planets and know what other life forms are out there, but she knew life may not in actuality be friendly.

At Allotment Plot 326, Ella Montt hunted for more Potato tubers in the soil, but was disappointed at the lack of tubers that she found. The vegetable growing year was disappointing for some produce, but still held promise for others. Greens were germinating, Bean plants were climbing, Squash plants were flowering, but so far only formed one fruit. Bees were very busy on the Raspberry plants. A vegetable race against time and the first frost was in effect.

Seeds planted: Spinach Giant Winter.

Harvest: Potato Desiree = 4lb 2oz = 1.88kg; Wild Blackberries = 14oz = 400g; Broad Beans Hangdown Green = 5oz = 140g; Chard = 5oz = 140g; Mizuna = 3oz = 80g; 4 x Raspberries.

30th August 2012 – At Allotment plot at MERL there was nothing to harvest apart from Pot Marigold seeds. Ella Montt had expected Beans (Climbing or Runner), but the Beans were in the process of flowering and constructing vegetable matter. The Beans would not be ready for at least a week or to a fortnight in human time. Tomatoes and Rocket sat rooted to the soil, but with no enthusiasm to grow. There was no physical restriction apart from in adequate moisture or temperature relativity. Productivity of the Plot was failing. The Plots’ life span was starting to fold in on its self, decrease and deconstruct. Ella Montt gaze shifted to the Beans reaching up to the sky and to infinity somewhere beyond the force of gravity surrounding Earth. This was indeed place tilled.

Harvest: Pot Marigold seed = 1.25oz = 30g.

Harvest, Failure, Potato, Planet

8th August 2012 – Allotment Plot 326 – The day became warmer and warmer and more humid. Ella Montt arrived at the Plot and found that next door at plot 325 most of the wild plant foliage had been cut down and removed, apart from at the far end where it had been left standing. Here, the wild plants were still tall and the multiple seed heads were set to distribute their seed at any moment, so that the plants could continue their reproductive process life cycle.

Ella Montt harvested Broad Beans, two types of Potatoes and Chard. Where the Potatoes had been dug out of the soil, she planted leafy vegetable seeds. On the other side of the track, wild Blackberry fruits were picked from the hedge that borders the allotment plot’s land. The watering can was fetched from the shed so that Ella Montt could apply water to areas of the Plot were vegetables matter was attempting to grow (apart from the potatoes). An area of the soil was cleared and covered with recycled paper. Other areas of the Plot were left undisturbed. Bean seeds planted last week had germinated. Some of the Climbing Beans were attempting to grow, but there was evidence that wildlife had been feeding from the tender foliage, although the actuality of this was unobserved. Magically on the Broad Bean plants that remained rooted in the soil, flowers had appeared and opened even though the plants had already produced Bean pods. The Raspberry seedlings, which had originally been found by the old apple tree and then replanted were forming fruits, but the fruits, as yet, were far from ripe.

Seeds planted: Leaf Beat Perpetual Spinach, Canary Chard and Swiss Chard.

Harvest: Blackberries (Wild) = 1lb 8oz = 690g; Broad Beans Hangdown Green = 8lb 150z = 4.09kg; Chard = 4oz = 120g; Potato Nicola 2lb = 900g and Red Duke Of York 2lb 15oz = 1.34kg.

9th August 2012 – At Allotment Plot at MERL it was a warm, humid, sunny day. Ella Montt stripped the Pea plants, removing them from the Plot and placed the plant remainders in the Brick Composter to rot down. Then they she removed the mesh net and bamboo that had been supporting the Peas growth. These items would be reused later to support other vegetables in their growth. Rocket seeds were germinating on the Plot, but their growth would need to accelerate in order to achieve harvest. A quantity of Bean seeds had been planted on the Plot, but there was very little sign of their plant growth. A Runner Bean had stopped flowering but it was still climbing up the bamboo support system so further Bean potential was contained in the future.

The Potato foliage was dying off. Ella Montt glanced at EB who was watching from the reading room window, then decided to wait another week before starting to dig the Balfour Potatoes. The Pot Marigold companion planting continued to flower profusely. The soil was parched, so the watering can was fetched from the shed in order to apply water to the Plot. Ella Montt’s movements and actions were repetitive as she went backwards and forwards across the garden to fill and empty the watering can. Ella Montt stood still and listened really hard, she could hear no real human talk about drought, yet the soil constitution, spoke louder than the vocal mutterings of human creatures.

On 10th August 2012 at Allotment Plot 326 it was hot, sunny and very dry. Ella Montt rearranged some of the wood and compost piles; then cut down one lot of Broad Beans. She discovered a two-foot hole sliced in to the fencing wire that must have occurred when the next-door plot’s plant foliage had been cut. Ella Montt integrated other fencing wire in to the fence to reinforce the security of the vegetable matter on the Plot. The rabbits needed to kindly stay outside of the fence, because they were too fond of tender vegetation. The appetites of the slugs were bad enough to cope with.

Harvest: Broad Beans Hangdown Green= 1lb 2oz = 500g.

17th August 2012 – Allotment Plot at MERL – Heavy rain had been expected but it had not happened. The heat of the sun became hotter and hotter as the day progressed. The soil was very dry. EB watched as Ella Montt dug up the potatoes. Considering the amount planted, harvest was minimal and disappointing, but not a failure. Other plants had failed dismally this year, perhaps even more so than others, so any harvest was positivity. The Plot explored failure through its own necessity. Water was applied. Scientific analysis pointed to the increase of human activity on the planet surface in respect to climate change data. Other planets hold their own secrets; it is only a matter of time that these secrets from across the galaxy will be revealed. Curiosity Rover may find more than rocks and dust.

Harvest: Potato Lady Balfour = 12lbs 4.5oz = 4.58kg; Onion Radar = 5.5oz = 165g = 4 bulbs; Companion Planting Herb seed Chamomile and Calendula Pot Marigold = 4.5oz = 40g; Wild Rocket and Chives = 6oz = 175g.

17th August 2012 – Later that day at Allotment Plot 326, the consistent warmth from the sun continued so water needed to be applied to the Plot. Ella Montt fetched the watering can, then went back and forth between the water source and the Plot.

Harvest: Wild Blackberries 1lb 2.5oz = 525g; Potatoes Nicola = 6lb 4oz = 2.85kg; Chard = 4.5oz = 130g.

20th August 2012 – Allotment Plot 326 – The day had been heavy and grey, eventually the weight of clouds had started to break up and the sun burst through. More Potatoes were dug. The Climbing Bean plants were growing, but they need to achieve rapid growth and flower fertilization in order to produce a Bean harvest before the frost will come.

Seeds planted: Oriental Pak Choi; Spinach Giant Winter.

Harvest: Wild Blackberries 1lb 1oz = 500g; Broad Beans Hangdown Green = 2oz = 50; Potato Nicola 6lb 8.5oz = 1.97kg.

21st August 2012 – Allotment Plot 326 – It seemed necessary to harvest more Potatoes because a slug was found living inside one of the tubers. The danger of blight might arrive, but luckily so far had not happened. Two Tomato plants planted further down the Plot had rotted from blight infliction. Ella Montt made a mental note to not plant Tomato plants at Plot 326 next year, because blight seemed to be rampant. A light shower of rain fell and dampened the leaves of the vegetation, but barely reached the roots hidden below the soil.

Harvest: Wild Blackberries 6oz = 180g; Potato Nicola 7lb 14.5oz = 3.56kg.

23rd August 2012 – Allotment Plot at MERL, Ella Montt neatened and redefined the edges of the Plot. Plant material was removed and placed in the Brick Composter. Companion Planting seeds were harvested. The day was cloudy, grey and warm. There was virtually nothing edible to harvest. The tiny Rocket seedlings remained tiny. Some of the Climbing Bean plants were growing, but other remained a failure. Mint rhizomes were trying to extend themselves across the Plot, but they needed to be contained, because Ella Montt’s tenancy on the Plot was gradually fading. Ella Montt fetched the watering can and watered the Plot.

Harvest: Beans (Runner) Enorma = 2oz = 60g; Chamomile and Calendula Pot Marigold 2.5oz = 65g.

Fat Slug, Frost, Sweet Potato, Frog

7th October 2011 – At Allotment Plot at MERL, there was an overload of sound at the Plot. The sounds penetrated and reverberated across the garden. Magpies were conspiring in the trees, planes moving along flight paths, teenagers screaming and shouting involved in the action of sport in a field beyond the hedge, sirens wailing, one after the other, the sounds repeated and echoed again and again. The Brick Composter had collapsed in on itself; the top layer of bricks had fallen in to the compost. Ella Montt adjusted the bricks back in to position. A tan coloured fat slug was at rest in amongst the compost. The second yellow squash was in the process of dying, the first had already died, it was partially eaten and the rest in a state of decomposition. A third squash fruit seemed okay for the time being, the fourth seemed strong and had a robust flower, a fifth was trying to emerge, but none, because of the time of year, would last long enough to become substantial. The day was breezy with an Autumnal nip in the air, after a dark morning, some blue sky had emerged and the clouds, blocked and then unblocked the sunshine.

The human discontent was progressing with more protest through the occupation of space (New York City 99%). The space is not cultivated just occupied. Perhaps all city space in general needs to be squatted and become cultivated through the growing of vegetables and fruit to disconnect the merchandise from the power of commodity and the obsession with economic growth. Land needs to be shared along with wealth, but at the same time the commodity needs to deconstruct itself so that resources are not wantonly depleted. It is time to plant over the concrete; every city needs to be a garden of vegetation. A city can function with more sustainability than a rural dwelling, because of the shared utilities of the human activity, yet the increase in heat generated by the human activity amassed in the cities is increasing the hyperobject of global warming. The winter of discontent is looming and its harsh reality will be felt in the streets when the temperature drops, yet first the Autumnal Fall needs to be completed before the Winter cycle. The discontent is unlikely to dissolve, the fat slug sits untouched in the compost, and all the while the extremes of drought and starvation are felt in Afghanistan and Africa.

Harvest: Tomatoes = 3.5oz = 90g; Companion Planting Seeds, Calendula Pot Marigold, Cosmos Cosmea, Cosmos Orange Cosmea, Chamomile, Sunflower and Mint; Celery Tall Utah = 5oz = 140g; Chard = 1oz = 30g; Beans (Runner) Enorma = 14oz = 400g; Beans (French Climbing) Neckarqueen and Blue Lake = 2oz = 60g, Blauhide = 1.5oz = 40g, Barlotta Di Fuoco = 10.5oz = 300g.

On the 10th October 2011 the size of this years Squash and Pumpkins was a news item on a radio program. The conversation focused on the fact that the cold nights in June delayed the growth of the plants leaves so that they were not nearly developed enough by July. The temperatures then did not contribute enough to allow the plants growth to catch up, resulting in many of the Squash and Pumpkins being lighter than they would be normally at harvest time, (that is if they grew at all). Ella Montt had found some of the Squash plants at Plot 326 started to grow in September only to be thwarted once again as soon as the temperature dropped. The Sweetcorn plants had also barely grown. Harvest was minimal.

13th October 2011 – Allotment Plot at MERL, the day after the Moon was waxing gibbous, Ella Montt attached curtains of newsprint paper to the Bamboo Frame around the Plot. Ella Montt gazed through the camera lens at the partially covered Plot, there was no sense of Jeanne-Claude and Christo, but a more Fluxist act of temporality as the paper hung in the air. The Plot as an object was explored. Ella Montt knew that in an augenblick the paper curtains could be removed and placed in the Brick Composter to become compost material, overtime the deconstruction of the paper would leave no visual trace or relic, and would become soil. The newsprint, a seemingly low tech product, had once been part of a plant tree that had originally grown out of the soil, the tree had been deconstructed and reconstructed in to the newsprint through a process involving high technology. The manufacturing of paper can be constructed by human hand, but it is more normal for machines to make paper from trees. The string that attached the paper curtain to the Bamboo frame was also originally a product from a plant, reconstructed for human needs.

The weather that day in October was pleasantly warm in temperature, with a slight breeze. It was neither hot nor cold. Small clouds drifted by in a blue Autumnal sky. The third yellow Squash fruit was in the process of dying. The fourth had not yet reached that stage and at this point still had life potential, but it was too late in the season and the inevitable premature death of the Squash fruit loomed. The harvest today would be minimal. When darkness falls Ella Montt will be gazing beyond the blueness of the sky towards far distant star configurations, wondering when the time will be right to plant next years Garlic.

Harvest: Companion Plantings Seeds = 1oz = 20g; Beans (French Climbing) Barlotta Di Fuoco = 6oz = 180g; Celery Tall Utah = 7oz = 195g; Tomatoes = 3.5oz = 95g; a mix of the other Beans including Enorma and Blauhide = 7.5oz = 240g and Sweetcorn True Gold = 5oz = 140g.

14th October 2011 – Allotment Plot 326 – As if by magic a new carpet had appeared and covered an expanse of soil that had grown the potatoes this year. Ella Montt cut more vegetation and added it to the compost pile that is accumulating.

Harvest: Squash 1 x Sweet Dumpling 6oz = 175g, 1 x Sweet Dumpling = 5oz = 140g, 1 x Blue Kuri = 2lb 5oz = 1.05Kg, 1 x Green Hokkaido = 2oz = 50g, 1 x Green Hokkaido = 12oz = 345g, 1 x Acorn = 1lb 8oz = 690g; Sweetcorn True Gold = 6oz = 175g; a mix of Beans = 1lb = 440g; Oriental Tai Sai = 11.5oz = 330g; Courgettes = 3 x Cocozelle = 9oz = 250g, 2 x Patriot F1 = 10oz = 280g; Perpetual Spinach = 7oz = 200g; Rainbow Chard = 7oz = 200g; Kale Red Russian Curled = 3.5oz =90g.

19th October 2011, Ella Montt went first to Allotment Plot at MERL and then to Allotment Plot 326, Frost was forecasted for that night and fear of plant loss was projecting itself across the land. At Allotment Plot at MERL the sky was dark, tiny Blauhide Beans were forming after the recent warm weather. The most recent Squash was still intact, but the previous one that had been growing, was rotting next to it on the vine. Ella Montt gathered Companion Planting flowers to save them from Frost destruction. The flowers would be pressed secretly and then attached to tree product thin card. Harvest: Celery Tall Utah = 6oz = 165g.

On arrival at Allotment Plot 326 Ella Montt found that she was already too late. The temperature must have plummeted on a previous night, already the leaves of the Courgette and Squash plants had turned from green to black and were curled in on themselves in an alien configuration. The Globe Artichoke plants were so far unaffected by the drop in temperature, Ella Montt had no previous experience in growing this type of plant, so uncertainty hung over their longevity. If the plants could keep growing and do not perish, next year they may produce artichokes. A Frog hopped by. If the Frog wanted to survive the Winter it would need to hide itself somewhere to avoid being frosted. Harvest: Celery Tall Utah = 7oz = 195g; Squash 1 x Sweet Dumpling = 12oz = 345g, 1 x Green Hokkaido = 6oz = 165g, 1 x Green Hokkaido = 3.5oz = 75g; Rainbow Chard = 1.5oz = 40g; Oriental Tai Sai = 2oz = 60g.

The next day, on the 20th October 2011, at Allotment Plot at MERL, Frost had not appeared in white frozen form. The tiny Blauhide Beans remained unharmed attached to purple flowers. The Cosmos Cosmea and Sunflowers still bloomed. There was no sign of a zero temperature, it had been close, yet luckily, for the time being, the Plot was sufficiently sheltered from the elemental forces.

27th October 2011 – Allotment Plot at MERL – Ella Montt dug up the Sweet Potato. The tuber vine plant had not spread in all directions as anticipated for, but instead was becoming trapped by the rhizome growing Mint plant that is extending itself in the form of horizontal runners punctuated by vertical shoots of new foliage structure. The Sweet Potato was surprisingly still in one piece. The Slips had tiny tubers growing from them. Ella Montt divided the Sweet Potato Slips and replanted them close to the original tuber. It would be an ecological miracle if the Sweet Potato will survive a harsh winter, but perhaps the Slips would establish themselves and extend roots beyond the Mint invasion.

It was a dark dull Autumnal day, the grey clouds were heavy, but moving fairly rapidly considering their weight, the threat of rain held off, but not in Thailand or Dublin where it was flooded. Sweet Pea seeds were embedded in the soil next to the Bamboo Wigwam. A Heavy Metal CD had broken. The Squash plant that in recent weeks had tried so hard to produce was slowly meeting the end of its life expectancy. Celery and Parsnips were dug out of the ground, Mint and Rocket gathered. Phacelia Tanacetifolia was broadcasted across the Plot. The first rows of Broad Bean Aquadulce Supersimonia were planted about 8-10 inches from the Brick Composter, this was followed by planting rows of Broad Bean Superaquadulce and then Pea Meteor. The over wintering planting had begun.

Harvest: mix of Beans = 5.5oz = 160g; Mint = 3oz = 80g; Rocket Esmee and Wild = 1.5oz = 40g; Parsnip Halblange White = 7oz = 200g; Celery Tall Utah = 7oz and 200g.

28th October 2011 – Allotment Plot 326 – The potted Oak Tree seedlings found on the Plot were experiencing their own Autumn. Ella Montt cleared the dead Beans, Sweetcorn, Courgette and Squash plants to the Compost Pile that had been expanding gradually since it was uncovered a month or so ago. It was anticipated that some of next years Squash plants would be planted on the compost.

A Frog was seen amongst the Tai Sai. Perhaps a small pond needs to be dug for the Frog? (This idea is under consideration, but needs to be in a bramble root free area). Ella Montt fetched the fork from the shed, not to dig the pond, but to work over an area of soil that had been cleared of vegetation. It was a perfect day to dig; the temperature was just right, not to cold or hot. When the area had been worked over it was covered with layers of tree products, newspaper and cardboard and weighted down with pieces of wood. This soil will now be left until early spring. The layers of tree products covering the soil would assist in weed suppression and encourage worms to break down the matter underneath the covering so that it would be ready to plant without much work in the Spring. The cardboard will also offer space for the Frog to shelter under if needed.

Harvest: Perpetual Spinach = 3oz = 80g; Kale Red Russian Curled = 1.5oz = 40g; Oriental Tai Sai = 6oz = 160g; Rainbow Chard = 2oz = 65g; Carrots Autumn King = 8oz = 230g.

Elements, Garlic Harvest, Bamboo

7th June 2011 – Allotment Plot 326. The Bean plants that had been planted a few days before looked like they had been through war, left to interact with the elements and wildlife. Ella Montt found it hard to know if the plants would recover from the havoc they had experienced. The weather was changeable and inconsistent. The fence that should surround the Plot had not yet been installed. The vegetable seedlings planted on the Plot are tender and tasty food for foraging rabbits, birds, slugs, snails and other forms of wildlife that live at the Allotments.

Harvest: Blackcurrants = a few; Spinach = 1lb 2oz = 500g.

8th June 2011 – Heavy rain showers were sporadic throughout the day. The soil and the plants were heard groaning softly and breathing ecstatic sighs of relief, then relaxed to absorb the moisture. Bamboo that was donated by J was shifted with the help of R&P to the Plot. The rain soaked the Shifters. On arrival at Allotment Plot at MERL the clouds separated to reveal blue sky. Ella Montt removed a row of Broad Beans that had finished production. The plants and soil were wet. As rays of sunlight fell towards the centre of the Plot, Green Bamboo suddenly sprouted out of the ground, its leaves opened and the Bamboo grew to be about 15 foot tall, almost touching the sky. There was a pause as Ella Montt processed this event. Then the clouds started to gather again in to a dense grey mass that closed in, darkened and covered the blue atmosphere. In ein augenblick the green Bamboo tree disappeared, perhaps returning to the soil. Then the rain fell again and the Shifters sort shelter inside the museum doorway.

When the rain stopped the Shifters returned to the Plot. The Green Bamboo tree was but a memory, and left the residue of a hole in the soil where it had been. A tall tripod of Bamboo was erected in the place of this memory, not to replace the memory, but to fold another memory around the place, where the Green Bamboo had fleetingly existed.

9th June 2011 – Ella Montt arrived at Allotment Plot at MERL with more plants that were being transplanted from the fixed up greenhouse to a different location in the Plot. Before these plants became situated in the soil, it suddenly became necessary to remove the Garlic from the Plot. Without warning and ceremony the Garlic harvesting commenced. The Garlic harvest was a month earlier than last years in 2010. Elements that constructed this event were influenced by weather conditions since the Garlic had been planted last October. Snow had first fallen in November and in December, this had been followed by rain and frost, but then from March drought and heat had dominated the growing cycle. The Garlic growth systems were starting to crash and shut down. This is why the sudden harvest became essential in order to save the crop.

Garlic Harvest: 2 bulbs x Elephant Garlic (1) = 6oz = 180g, 5 bulbs x Dukat Garlic (2) = 3oz = 80g, 13 bulbs x Sprint Garlic (3) = 12oz = 340g, 11 bulbs x Thermidrome Garlic (4) = 7oz = 200g.

A quantity of Peas was also harvested. Pea Harvest: Pea (Mange-tout) Oregon Sugar Pod = 2oz = 40g,

In the row where the Broad Beans had been removed on the previous day four Tomato plants were placed in the soil between the two of the Bamboo canes that form the Bamboo Tripod (which looks like the frame of a wigwam). The Tomato plants were 1 x Chadwick, 1 x Brandywine and 2 x Marmande (Koralk will be planted on another occasion). Other plants were placed in the soil close to the Bamboo Tripod, these were; Squash Pumpkin Mars x 2, Cucumber Marketmore x 1 and Tanja x 1 and Melon Sivan F1 x 1. Adjacent to the Bamboo, Climbing Bean seeds were added; Blue Lake x 6, Barlotto Lingua Di Fuoco x 6, Blauhide x 6, Neckarqueen x 6 and Enorma x 6. Another Sunflower Jerusalem Sunrise Yellow was planted close to the Brick Composter.

Comfrey and Seed Planting

Tuesday 12th April 2011 – At Allotment Plot 326, digging of an area of ground was completed. Seeds were then planted as follows: Leeks Almera, Kale Red Russian Curled, Beetroot Bolivar, Carrot Amsterdam Forcing, and Carrot Rothild. Ella Montt noted that both a Carrot fly deterrent barrier and also a Heavy Metal collection of CD’s to deter hungry birds needs to be deployed.

Weeding of the overwintered planted area that contains the Garlic, Onions, Spinach, Broad Beans and newly planted Shallots Red Sun commenced.

Thursday 14th April 2011 – Ella Montt had acquired a small Comfrey plant donated by ImL. At Allotment Plot At MERL, Ella Montt selected a place in the Plot and planted the Comfrey in the corner of the Brick Composter. A tiny Stinging Nettle plant was observed establishing itself where it had been situated a few weeks ago in the opposite corner of the Composter. Both Comfrey and Stinging Nettle can be harvested as they grow to act as activators to the compost. Comfrey is a good plant food for Tomatoes and Potatoes. Stinging Nettles are loved by Ladybirds and can also be used for human consumption when cooked (much like Spinach). Both plants have their own particular medicinal qualities.

The net fence that had been installed around the Peas seemed to have so far prevented bird assault on the young plants. Perhaps the Peas could not be seen through the netting? To try to prevent an aerial offensive green plastic string was tied between the Bamboo tripods.

It had rained very lightly the previous evening, but the soil was still exceptionally dry and it was necessary to water the Plot. Ella Montt fetched the watering can from the shed to assist in the watering process.

At the fixed up greenhouse some seeds had germinated, but growth of Tomato and Pepper plants remained fairly slow. Sunflower and Globe Artichoke had germinated with ease, however the act of planting outside was on hold, because although frost seemed unlikely in the current weather forecast, sudden and unexpected frosty temperatures can still arrive in May. Therefore the waiting game continued. A newspaper report was read that indicated rainfall for the time of year was below average and drought was already looming. Meanwhile more seeds were selected and planted in pots in the fixed up greenhouse. The seeds were as follows:

08/04/2011, Sweetcorn True Gold; French Bean (Dwarf) Royalty; French Bean (Climbing) Barlotto Lingua di Fuoco, Blauhide, Blue Lake, and Neckarqueen, and Runner Bean Enorma.

16/04/2011, Melon Sivan F1; Cucumber Marketmore and Tanja, Courgette Cocozelle, Patriot F1 and Soliel F1; Squash Big Max, Black Futsu, Blue Ballet, Buttercup, Butternut, (Pumpkin) Cinderella, Fictor F1, Green Hokkaido, (Pumpkin) Jack O’Lantern, Marina Di Chioggia, Musquee de Provence, Red Turban and Uchiki Kuri.

Last years Beans at the Allotment produced a good harvest, but last years Squashes were slow to grow on the Plot and did not produce a good harvest. This year Ella Montt is taking action to try to improve the fertility of the soil for the Squashes, because the plants like a compost rich soil, but the management of weather conditions to enhance growth development is still under observation and reflection. If drought continues more water will need to be applied.

Sunshine, Fences, Failure to Dig and Drought

6th April 2011  – The weather this week was undeniably beautiful. Gloriously warm sunshine deceiving humans in to perhaps a false sense of security. Extreme sunshine, heat and drought so early in the season has in recent years often been a prequel to a summer of rain and flooding. Ella Montt searched for a crystal ball to gaze in to, but could not find one. Now the sunshine was bright, but future weather conditions could not be perceived so were therefore cloudy.

Ella Montt arrived at Allotment 326 after examining the root of the Sweet Potato. The blossoms and leaves on the Fruit Trees were gradually unfurling. There was an alien quality to the Cherry’s leaves reminiscent of a science fiction life form.

Ella Montt attempted to dig the sun-baked soil to prepare for the fence that needed to be erected, but the task was thwarted. The ground had become as solid as rock. The heat of the sun so early in the season was also quite unbearable to the labouring and pale Ella Montt. It was a very unproductive day, but the Garlic was growing vibrantly.

On the 7th April at 2.30pm, Ella Montt arrived at Allotment Plot at MERL, she had avoided the heat of the midday sun, but it was still unseasonably warm for the time of year. There was a special purpose to achieve that day and that was installing a net barrier to surround the soil that was planted with Peas and Carrots. The reasoning behind this was that the Peas may not be so visible to the bird attack and that carrot fly would not have access to the germinating carrots, because they fly at below the height of 2 feet (60.96cms) scenting out Carrots.

Two humans stopped to converse with Ella Montt, who then removed a root of Mint that had strayed in to the grass outside of the Plot and handed it to the female human.

After the interaction Ella Montt returned to her work. She cut the netting so that it would be the height of 31.496 inches (80cms), then pushed bamboo canes in to the dry soil and tied the netting to the bamboo. The planted area was surrounded, but birds would still be able to launch aerial attacks from above. Ella Montt was running out of time, because MERL was about to close for the night, but before departure Ella Montt fetched water to dampen the Plot.

On the 8th April Ella Montt returned again to Allotment 326 to resume preparation for the fence. The weather was still hot and sunny. Ella Montt once again attempted to dig the dried ground, but neither the fork nor the spade could barely penetrate the surface. Disappointment and frustration at failure to dig was becoming very difficult. Two pieces of sawn wooden pallet were inserted in to soil that had been dug for the Potato planting. These pieces of pallet signified the first fence posts. Then pieces of carpet and other coverings were gathered from the around the Plot and the shed then placed along the boundary of the Plot in the hope that some how the covered ground would soften enough to be dug at a later stage. The fence constrution was going to be a long process. Ella Montt was able to dig an area of soil that she uncovered by moving a length of carpet, but the area was inside the boundary of the Plot so not part of the fencing system. Drought and ground hardening had not been foreseen. Future plantings at Allotment 326 depended on a fence being erected to try to ward off rabbits and rats. The utopian dream of the working allotment had an element of failure contained within it.


Allotment Plot 326 sits in the great field with many other allotment plots. It is part of a social system that gave humans a right to an allotment of land. Desire for an allotment plot can be a utopian dream. Reality of working an allotment or making the allotment succeed involves much hard effort. In order to make the allotment function it needs ground preparation. With any garden there can be much labour involved, but this individually depends on the nature of the garden and how it has been designed. Some gardens need very little work, for other gardens the work is a never ending cycle. Gardens can bring pleasure to the humans that work them, but gardens can also bring sorrow, frustration and despair, (when plants are overwhelmed by conditions in the natural world). The ugliness of digging is in a sense an act of placing order on the natural world. That is not to say the natural world is one of chaos, but one that has its own order outside the human domain.

Ella Montt was standing in the studio amongst the chitting Charlotte Second Early Seed Potatoes that were spread in 30cm intervals across corrugated cardboard that simulated the Allotment Plot laid out across the floor. Ella Montt was wearing her metallic blue 4″ heeled shoes, she bent to pick up the Potatoes and gathered them in to a knitted plastic sack. A similar sack of Sante Main Crop Seed Potatoes had been planted on the previous day (29 March 2011). Each sack contained 40 Potatoes. Ella Montt removed her blue shoes and stepped in to her muddy earth trainers and then headed towards the Allotment to resume digging.

Ella Montt found the idea that an “Allotment” is classified in the UK as a Leisure Garden slightly misleading. Digging ground that was filled with bramble roots and hardening to concrete through lack of rain was not what Ella Montt would describe as “Leisure”. Thorpe’s report had endorsed this taxonomy. Digging vibrant soil that turns easily can be joyous but at that moment it was ugly work and hard labour. Perhaps Ella Montt lacked the muscle power, but it was nothing to do with her gender. The art of digging is not gender specific. Digging had been easier when the soil was more moist a few weeks ago. To lighten Ella Montt’s mood, to break the tension of the act of digging, she employed the act of spontaneous dancing, (see the video evidence). Would Thorpe approve of dancing whilst digging to instigate Leisure? A slight rain shower earlier in the day had hardly penetrated the surface. Below the surface soil it was almost rock solid. The Charlotte Potatoes were eventually planted.

Meanwhile the fruit trees were starting to unfurl tight leaf buds.

Ella Montt felt the feelings of panic setting in again, because the fence around Allotment Plot 326 is still not erected. The need for the fence was becoming more imperative. Not a need to protect the Potatoes from the hungry rabbits, but a need to protect any other plantings to follow from the hungry rabbits. The Potatoes worst enemies could be frost, drought, flooding and blight, but not rabbits. With the Potatoes planted, Ella Montt’s focus can now shift to the creation of the fence. A magpie landed on a nearby plot and steadily walked across newly planted soil, searching for, finding and then eating hidden seeds.

Bricks and Potatoes

Ella Montt was at Allotment Plot at MERL on 3 March. She had not visited this aspect of the Plot since January, because she had been occupied with other aspects elsewhere. The previous day there had been sun, but the day was bitterly cold, and the sky was grey. Ella Montt examined the state of the Allotment Plot, some of the bricks that formed the Brick Composter were out of position, chaotically fallen out of place. Last years remaining Brassicas were now stripped skeletons punctuating the Plot. The overwintered Broad Beans and Peas showed evidence of predator attack and the harshness of winter. Most of the Onions seemed to have survived. The Garlic was perhaps predictably looking the most productive of the overwintered vegetables.

It was time to remove weeds to the Composter, redefine the Plot and neaten the edges. Ella Montt collected gardening tools from the shed. Green Manure plants Phacelia that had been sown back in Autumn 2010 were left growing scattered across the Plot. A solitary Crocus was in bloom. Stinging Nettles seedlings existed within the Plot, but were transported to the Composter with the notion that they might establish themselves within its boundaries as a welcome addition in pest control. It was noted that Mint rhizomes were extending in different directions beyond their previous area. Further evidence of this activity will be carefully monitored.

The Brick Composter was already composed of 91 bricks so Ella Montt utilized a wheelbarrow to collect a further 29 bricks from an amount that sits stacked beside the shed. The additional bricks were piled to complete the Brick Composter, a total of 120 bricks, (the same number of bricks used by Carl Andre in Equivalent VIII).

The earthquake and tsunami in Japan on March 11th 2011, devastated and obliterated the lives of human and non human species. The water of the tsunami washed away towns, bodies, organised mechanics of the human condition, such as transport vehicles, (land or water-based), business, cultivated growth of plant life and the everyday aspect of life into non life. The shock of this realization turned into further panic due to the failing cooling systems of nuclear power plants that were affected by the power of the planet’s own vital energy system that had caused the catastrophe.

Some of the human species remained convinced that nuclear energy was essential to human ways of life on Earth, while others wished that the nuclear industry should be dismantled in favour of safer ecological systems to generate energy. Ella Montt had never liked the nuclear industry and was most concerned for those in Japan, those that had lost their lives and those that had survived, both had their lives altered in the time span of minuets or seconds as the ground shock and later as the waves swept over the land. Planet Earth is a living organism, but this can be forgotten. Everything returns to the materials of the planet from which it has animated. Atoms drift, form and flux in the atmosphere surrounding the astronomical object.

On March 17th 2011, six thousand miles away in Japan there was still a state of panic and emergency, because of the on going conditions at the nuclear power plants. (Nuclear power no thanks!) Thousands of lives were lost in the tsunami. Bodies had been washed out to sea or covered by the wreckage of the flood. The mess and mass of residue remains piled for miles along the coastline. Some of the coastline had dropped at the time of the earthquake which allowed the tsunami to then sweep further in land. The conditions of global warming v the conditions of catastrophe from nuclear energy, if the world is contaminated with radiation what good is it to anyone anyway? Energy systems can be established through other means that are more sustainable solutions and not built on fossil fuels or nuclear power.

Ella Montt mused on why humans need catastrophe in order to realize thought processes that enable change. Progress is often not a linear process. Science develops systems and systems can generate progress, but power can generate a system that is blind to the future. The future is hidden tread carefully.

The sun broke through the misty cloud haze. Ella Montt prepared to plant 15 Lady Balfour Main Crop seed Potatoes, EM adjusted the tripod and digital video camera. Eve Balfour stepped out of MERL’s library archive and walked across the garden to join Ella Montt at the Plot. EM handed EB a fork and EB started to prepare the soil. Ella Montt went to the shed to fetch a wheelbarrow and then pushed it up the path amongst the trees towards the garden’s composting area. EM shovelled some of last year’s compost in to the wheelbarrow and headed back down the wooded bank to EB. Together they carefully dug a row of eight holes and then Ella Montt placed a Potato in each earth cavity with the Potato Chits facing upwards. EB covered the Potatoes and added extra compost from the wheelbarrow making Mole Hill type mounds over each one. Ella Montt placed a seed label by each mound to mark the position. EB and EM then dug another row of seven holes and Ella Montt placed the last seven Potatoes in their respective holes. Bob Flowerdew had advised to dig holes as big as a saucepan and Ella Montt remembered this. A note was made to acquire Comfrey roots for the Plot. Comfrey is an excellent plant food for Potatoes, Tomatoes and compost. EM and EB shared Ella Montt’s thermos of plant-based tea whilst they discussed the Plot.

When EB went back to the rest in the library archive Ella Montt planted 4 x 3 sticks of dried Bamboo at each corner of the Plot in triangular formations. It was somewhat early in the year to be assembling Climbing Bean supports, but Ella Montt had decided that the Heavy Metal CDs needed to be reinstated to the Plot to try to ward of predators. Ella Montt attached the CDs with last years blue plastic string to the Bamboo supports. The Heavy Metal CDs will swing with the breeze and create a slight disturbance around the Plot that may interfere with pigeons feeding, but will not deter any slugs. Ella Montt then applied pieces of Fragile Handle With Care packaging tape that had been saved from an incoming package.

Ella Montt was in the studio, it was March 24th 2011, two days before another March in London against government spending cuts. This March was due to be as large as the Anti War March in 2003. Ella Montt hoped it would remain peaceful. What would be the point of violence breaking out between police and protestors when police are also being cut? The police should also be marching. Ella Montt was in no mood to pussyfoot around; she slipped off her 4″ heel gold dance shoes and left them standing amongst the field of chitting Potatoes on the studio floor. EM put on her muddy earth footwear, reached for her bike helmet and reflective visibility vest and then strode down the corridor. Once outside she unlocked her bike and cycled off across the campus to go to the Allotment Plot at MERL. It was almost two weeks after the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, and still there was an on going nuclear crisis at Fukushima.

The weather in the South East of the UK was above normal average temperatures for the time of year. A weatherman said that the 24th March in the UK was warmer than South of Spain, but there was no suggestion that the warmth was to do with any kind of radiation cloud that had drifted 6000 miles around the planet, unlike the radiation cloud that travelled across Europe from Chernobyl disaster in 1986. The Japanese have so far been able to avoid a meltdown, but the situation may not be contained for months, meanwhile radiation continues to leak and the reactor sits dangerously close to a fault line as do others dotted around the Earth’s surface. In 1986 humans had stood outside the public house on Charlotte Road in London enjoying the exceptionally warm weather whilst sheep on Welsh mountains absorbed the radiation.

Ella Montt had arrived at the Allotment Plot at MERL, collected tools from the shed and was now forking over some unseeded parts of the Plot. EM piled more soil on to the Lady Balfour Potatoes earthing them up as a preventative against frost. There had been virtually no rain all month and the weather forecast implied rain was unlikely for almost another week. The temperature felt like May or June, but in reality it was not.

The plants that had managed to survive the winter (some had not) were starting to grow again. The Garlic was looking very good. Ella Montt prepared to plant some more Peas and Broad Beans to fill in the gaps where plants had perished or been eaten. Other seeds were in the process of germinating in pots at the fixed up greenhouse at another location.

As a bumblebee flew by Ella Montt proceeded to plant more seeds. First the overwintered row of Pea Meteor was filled in again. Followed closely by rows of Pea Kelvedon Wonder, Pea Ambassador, Pea (Edible Podded) Ezetha’s Krombek Blauschokker, and Pea (Mange-tout) Oregon Sugar Pod. Then Ella Montt planted some more Broad Bean seeds to try to fill out the broken rows of overwintered Broad Bean Supersimonia and Superaquadulce. Between the two rows of Broad Beans Ella Montt planted a row of Carrots Rothild and Autumn King, then a row of Parsnip Halblange White and a row of Leek Blue Green Winter. Beyond the Garlic, close to the Brick Composter, Ella Montt planted a mixed row of Leaf Beet Rainbow Chard and Kale Halbhoher Grun Krauser. Next to the Herbs at the other end of the Plot, Ella Montt planted a mixture of Onion Ramrod, Dill, Flat Leaved Parsley, and Coriander Santos. The final planting of the day around the Plot was a mixture of Companion Planting flowering seeds, Cosmos Cosmea, Cosmos Orange Cosmea, Borage, Pot Marigold Calendula Officinalis and Nasturtium Organic Mix. Ella Montt knew that Allotment Plot at MERL is small comparatively in size to Allotment Plot 326, but was very conscious of the need for crop rotation whilst she planted. Crop rotation means that no like for like plant should be planted in the same place as the previous year, in order to minimize disease and fertility of the soil.

Whilst Ella Montt was planting she noticed the Mint rhizome had extended out of the Plot and in to the grass of the lawn. This was somewhat of a surprise and an unintentionally thought process. Perhaps on the next visit an attempt will be made to revert this rhizome back in to the boundaries of the Plot. Ella Montt was aware that Mint rhizomes were growing within the Plot, but would need to consult Deleuze and Guattari about removing plant structures that drifted outside of the Plot to see if they needed to be reinstated within the Plot.

At Allotment 326 on Tuesday 22nd, earlier in the week, Ella Montt had planted 15 Madeleine First Early Potatoes that had been chitted in the studio and then EM had carried on digging. Ella Montt had much to do at Allotment Plot 326; there was a never-ending task to try to destroy the rhizomatic growth of the brambles at the Plot. There was also a constant urgency looming over Ella Montt that if a fence was not applied to Allotment Plot 326, rabbits would eat any other vegetable that would be planted at the Plot. Luckily at the moment the rabbits were keeping the encroaching grass well trimmed. Ella Montt was not aware of rabbits existing in the garden at MERL.

Potato Field

A potato is a tuber. Deleuze and Guattari define tubers as rhizomes. The Potato, Solanum Tuberosum, (as opposed to the Sweet Potato) is part of the Nightshades family. The potato as a plant has a long history. It originates from Peru. Humans discovered the potato and begun to cultivate it at least 7,000 years ago. The Spanish Conquistadors were the first Europeans to come in contact with the potato in the 1530s after searching for gold and fighting the Inca’s in the Andes. (Ella Montt muses, invasion and conquest of a country is that not illegal? And the Inca’s would not even have had fictional or actual weapons of mass destruction!). The potato was brought to Europe by humans in 1570 (approximately). Spanish sailors on ships who ate potatoes did not suffer from scurvy. The nutritional content of this tuber is very high, unlike the plant leaves which are poisonous. Many humans in Europe, at first distrusted the plant, because they were unaware of the sickness the foliage could induce and also because the tubers were not attractive to the visual senses. The potato is said to have washed up on the shores of Ireland after a Spanish ship was wrecked. Gradually the plant became more accepted, and the human became very dependent on the tuber as a source of nutrition. More humans could be fed by growing potatoes than through other forms of agriculture. Potato blight, which is a type of fungus, destroyed crops between 1845-1852 in Ireland, the Scottish Highlands, and other parts of Northern Europe. The potato blight caused famine, death through malnutrition and emigration to escape these conditions. The blight eventually dissipated and the potato crops became healthy again.

The Sweet Potato tuber grows on a vine and the foliage (Ella Montt has read), is also edible.  Sweet Potato is botanically known as Ipomoea Batatas and is related to the Morning Glory family. Some sweet potatoes can also be poisonous, but not the Batatas. Sweet Potatoes stem from the Southern regions of the New World, (continent of America). Columbus is said to have brought the Sweet Potato to the northern part of the New World, the Potato arrived almost one hundred years later. The Sweet Potato should not be confused with the tuber known as the Yam, Dioscorea Batatas, which is another type of vine altogether. The Yam is sweeter, has skin that resembles bark and can grow to almost two meters in length. Europe still has a very small Sweet Potato production, however production and consumption is prolific in many other parts of the world. The plant is not frost tolerant, it can be grown as a perennial under the right conditions, or failing that as an annual.

Ella Montt had tried to grow Sweet Potatoes on Allotment Plot at MERL in 2010, but the methodology that was used was faulty. On 9th February 2011, Ella Montt once again started her quest to grow a Sweet Potato. She assembled two Sweet Potatoes and water in clear glass jars and placed them in the studio with available light and heat. Sweet Potatoes can grow slips (white shoots) in this way that can then be used to grow the plant.

By the 18th February, one of the Sweet Potatoes had demised, but the other remained constant, yet without slips. The collapsed Sweet Potato had turned soft. It was removed and retured to the compost.

On the 22nd February a quantity of  Potato Madeleine were placed on the table to chit next to the Sweet Potato. The Sweet Potato had started to produce a plume around the end submerged in water, but as yet no slips.

Two days later, on the 24th February, a larger quantity of Potato Charlotte were also placed on the table to chit. Bother Madeleine and Charlotte are early cropping potatoes. Early potatoes can be harvested in June, which avoids blight that could come later in the growing season. When the potatoes are placed in the light to chit they start to grow green shoots which promotes their growth. It is not essential to chit Main Crop potatoes, because they take longer to develop and will be dug up later in the growing season. Bob Flowerdew advises that you can plant all varieties of potatoes out as soon as the weeds start to grow, (Go Organic, 2002, p92), Ella Montt will be aiming to plant out both the Early and Main Crop potatoes in mid March, but it will depend on when the ground is ready at the Allotment Plots.

By the March 8th, the Early potatoes in the studio were sprouting small green chits. Ella Montt added a new Sweet Potato propped in a jar of water to the potato field in the hope of growing slips. The first surviving Sweet Potato continued to grow a plume in the water, but as yet no visible slips. Bob Flowerdew advises in grow your own, eat your own, (2008, p165) that Sweet Potatoes can be grown as a vertical vine. According to Bob, there is no need for the haulm (stalk or stem) to grow rooted across the soil, because it dissipates the energy of the plant. Ella Montt has observed different accounts on growing Sweet Potatoes, and knows that they can grow to cover a wide ground area. If the slips are formed and Sweet Potato plants are able to be grown, Ella Montt will experiment with both methods of cultivation.

Ella Montt removed the quantity of Potato Charlotte to a large sheet of corrugated cardboard that was spread across the studio floor. Each potato was placed approximately 30cms away from each potato as if the potatoes were planted in the position to grow on the potato field.

Ella Montt left the studio and went to dig at Allotment 326. The ground was in much need of prepartion for the future event of potato planting.

Fruit Trees

At Allotment Plot 326 on January 14th 2011, Ella Montt planted some fruit bushes and trees. The temperature on that day was almost balmy. In the designated planting area the ground was dug to try to remove any bramble roots. Holes were then excavated and the roots of the trees and bushes were grounded and firmly covered with soil. The trees planted were Apple Cevaal, Cherry Summer Sun, and Plum Victoria, all on small root stock. The bushes planted were 2 Jostaberry, 1 Gooseberry Pax and 1 Blackcurrant Ben Sarek. Also re-planted was a Strawberry Plant and some Raspberry Canes that had been found on the Plot.

After several hours of labour, Ella Montt was hurrying to finish her work. The sky was darkening and a clap of thunder sounded over head. Then the rain came, falling heavily on the young trees, the newly cultivated soil and the worker Ella Montt.

On the 25th January, Ella Montt returned to the Plot to find bark had been eaten from trees. When the trees arrived they came with a warning that Rabbits may attack them by eating their bark. Ella had been too busy to return to the Plot before now and was sorry that she had neglected the trees. A bag of old netting sat in the Shed, Ella collected it and searched the Plot for anything she could use to prop the net up with. She found some old bamboo canes, sticks from the old Apple tree and pieces of wooden bed frame. With this assemblage of material Ella Montt created a barrier that she hoped the Rabbits could not invade. Ella wrapped biodegradable plastic around the damaged bark on the trees to protect them.

Ella Montt returned to the Plot on 28th January to check on the trees. It seemed so far there had been no new invaders. The rest of the Plot still needs to be dug over, brambles roots removed and fences put into place to try to protect the plants that Ella Montt wants to try to grow there as part of the Plot. It is very much an experimental growing area.